Pai Backs SpaceX's Broadband Play

FCC chair Ajit Pai has recommended to the other commissioners that they approve an application by SpaceX to launch a global, satellite-delivered broadband service.

"Following careful review of this application by our International Bureau’s excellent satellite engineering experts, I have asked my colleagues to join me in supporting this application and moving to unleash the power of satellite constellations to provide high-speed Internet to rural Americans," Pai said in a statement.

Pai said the country would need innovative approaches like SpaceX's and others, to bridge the digital divide, a key FCC priority, and to provide broadband competition, another FCC goal.

"Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach," Pai said. "And it can offer more competition where terrestrial Internet access is already available."

The FCC has already approved applications by OneWeb, SpaceNorway and Telesat to access U.S. markets to provide satellite-delivered broadband.

Google was a big investor in SpaceX, presumably to get in on the satellite broadband play.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.